In 1974 I was a specialist for children with autism in a residential Child Psychiatry Institute in the Netherlands. I was successful in working with these children. But on a Sunday afternoon my professional life changed. A mother came to visit her little son and she saw that I was able to get in contact with him and she started to cry and said to me, “Maria, I am his Mum; he is my son, if you know how to get in contact with my son why don’t you teach me?”
“I have time enough, I have love enough and I have motivation enough, the only thing I am missing is information on how to give that special support to my child with autism.” This is called now in Marte Meo concept CIRCLE OF LOVE.
So, since then I developed Marte Meo. Marte Meo is a film-based interaction analysis program that provides detailed and practical information to parents, carers and professionals on supporting the social, emotional and communication development of children, in daily interaction moments. The aim of the Marte Meo programme is to identify, activate and develop supportive interactions that will support the child’s developmental process in daily interaction moments. The program is used now in 43 countries.
The words Marte Meo means on one’s own strength. This I deliberately chose to highlight the central focus of the Marte Meo programme which is to encourage people to use their own strength to advance and stimulate developmental processes on the part of children, parents, and professional care givers and thus learn to optimally utilise their capacities. I studied 40 years on parent-child interaction in so many different countries and cultures. I used film as a tool to analyse parent-child interaction, which provides detailed information about natural supportive child-rearing behaviour from actual day-to-day situations.
It is very interesting to see how the practical elements of Marte Meo supportive interaction link so closely with the neurobiological science of the brain. I work all over the world closely with scientists, they love the detailed concrete information and they make the link to science.